Magic and Knicks top NBA betting marquee

By: Barry Daniels | Monday, February 28, 2011

The Knicks head to Orlando off Sunday’s big upset at the Miami Heat.

Bettors are learning there will be an adjustment period in games involving the new-look New York Knicks. The Orlando Magic will get their first peek at the retooled Knicks when the two second-place squads meet at 4:00 p.m. (PT) in Orlando.

The Knicks are 2-1 straight up and 1-2 against the spread since the big trade that brought Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups over from the Denver Nuggets. But that’s just half the story.

New York showed it needed time to fit those new pieces into the lineup during Friday’s embarrassing 115-109 loss to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers as eight-point road favorites.

Two days later on national television, bettors learned the Knicks would be a tough team to handicap when the New Yorkers put the defensive clamps on the Southeast Division-leading Miami Heat during a 91-86 victory.

The Knicks easily covered as hefty 10-point road underdogs, which raised their ledger away from Madison Square Garden to 14-15 SU and a sizzling 20-8-1 ATS.

The combined 177 points easily ducked below the 217-point closing total, leaving the ‘under’ 9-3 in the Knicks’ last 12 road endeavors and 29-27-1 overall.

New York overcame a 15-point first-half deficit and outscored Miami 13-2 in the final 2:52 of the fourth quarter to clinch the victory.

The finest moment occurred in the last 12.7 seconds when the Knicks were leading by one point and LeBron James had the ball in his hands. Anthony, who defended James over the last seven minutes, stayed with him as James drove to his left. James was in position for a layup, but Amare Stoudemire left his man and swatted away the potential go-ahead shot.

Anthony finished with 29 points and added nine rebounds. Stoudemire contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Billups chipped in with 16 points and three important baskets from beyond the arc late in the game.

Orlando has won and covered four of its last five games, including Sunday’s 100-86 victory against the Charlotte Bobcats as 11-point home favorites. The victory raised Orlando’s home record to 23-9 SU and 17-15 ATS. The Magic are outscoring the opposition at home by an average of 10 points per game (101-91).

The combined 186 points dipped below the 195-point closing total, enabling the ‘under’ to improve to 9-1 in Orlando’s last 10 efforts, 19-12-1 in their first 32 home dates and 33-25-2 overall.

The Magic have held nine of their last 10 opponents under 99 points to solidify a defense that ranks fifth in the league by allowing an average of 94 points per game. Orlando is holding the opposition to just 43.9 percent from the field, which ranks fourth.

Dwight Howard completed his dominant month of February by scoring 20 points and gathering 10 rebounds in just under 33 minutes.

But the spark Sunday night came from point guard Jameer Nelson and backup point guard Gilbert Arenas. Nelson scored eight of his 13 points and dished out four of his seven assists in the first quarter.

Arenas snapped out of a horrid shooting slump by scoring 16 points, his highest total since Dec. 28. He entered the night on a 0-for-18 skid from beyond the arc, but he wound making four of his six 3-point tries against Charlotte.

Orlando is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 home matchups against the Knicks. That includes a 112-103 victory as a 7 ½-point home favorite on Dec. 30 in the lone meeting between the clubs this season. The combined 215 points barely skipped above the 213 ½-point closing total, enabling the ‘over’ to cash in the last four series meetings.

After completing a seven-game homestand with Tuesday’s contest against New York, the Magic will make the short trip to Miami for a Thursday encounter against the Heat. New York will return to Madison Square Garden for a Wednesday meeting against the New Orleans Hornets.

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